Michelin: Growth Through Hydrogen

Michelin is striving for a successful future in the development and production of emission-free drive technologies. Michelin’s success story in the tyre segment goes back more than 125 years. The company is now taking great strides in driving forward new business areas. The focus here is primarily on hydrogen as an energy carrier and the associated fuel cell technology.

Michelin is thus focusing on future fields that go far beyond innovative and sustainable tyre technologies. For example, the company already invested 140 million euros in the Symbio joint venture with automotive supplier Faurecia in 2019. Behind the name Symbio is an ambitious project that will start construction of the largest factory for the production of hydrogen fuel cell systems in Europe in 2021 in Saint-Fons near Lyon. Symbio’s objective is to be one of the world’s leading suppliers of technology for use in hydrogen-powered vehicles, boats and other means of transport.

Michelin has high expectations for the joint venture, emphasises Anish K. Taneja, President of Michelin’s Europe North Region: “Michelin has been working on hydrogen fuel cell technology for more than 15 years. With our Symbio joint venture, we are currently developing the fourth generation. Our goal now is to scale production to reduce manufacturing costs. We are cooperating closely with Faurecia to make our joint subsidiary a leading supplier in this area. Our goal is to achieve a market share of xx% and sales of 1.5 billion euros by 2030.”

Michelin’s vision for sustainable mobility

“We are proactively acting on the challenges of our time by focusing on holistic solutions that reconcile mobility needs and environmental and climate protection goals. Symbio benefits from the outstanding expertise that Michelin and Faurecia bring to the joint venture. The unique range of technologies, products, services and, above all, global infrastructure will enable the company to grow dynamically,” adds Anish K. Taneja

The first milestones have already been reached. Symbio is currently developing the fourth generation of its fuel cell systems. As early as 2025, Symbio will have a production capacity of over 20,000 fuel cell systems. The young company currently employs 250 people. 

Successes in original equipment

The joint venture has already reported initial successes in original equipment: The StackPack® S* is already used as standard in two hydrogen-powered Renault models. The Kangoo Z.E Hydrogen and the Master Z.E Hydrogen have been rolling off the production line with Symbio components since October 2019. Symbio is also equipping the PSA Group’s first hydrogen-powered commercial vehicle fleet with its StackPack® system. The PSA Group will introduce hydrogen-powered vehicles for business customers in 2021. In numerous other projects, Symbio is working hand in hand with the automotive industry to accelerate the market launches of new models with innovative and efficient hydrogen-powered energy systems.

“MissionH24” – endurance test at Le Mans

Michelin, Faurecia and Symbio are pursuing particularly sporting goals as the main sponsors and innovation drivers of “MissionH24”. With this large-scale motorsport project, Symbio is proving that its hydrogen technology can also deliver top performance under the toughest conditions of an endurance race such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Under development is a high-performance fuel cell system for the Le Mans Prototype (LMP), which will be equipped by the Swiss manufacturer GreenGT with a hydrogen-electric powertrain including battery, engine and transmission. The ambitious Symbio commitment also aims to enter the race together with the H24 Racing team at Le Mans, among other events. In 2024, racing car prototypes with pure hydrogen drive are to compete in their own class for the first time in the endurance classic.